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Pros: So, my previous review went over a lot of the things I thought were great about this board. Sure, there's a lot of great features on this board, but after owning the board for a few months it was clear that there is some severe instability on the board that makes it nigh unusable.
Cons: 1 - The audio is much noisier than my old board, and the ALC1150 chip I paraded about in my last review only provides good quality on 1 single output, the rear green stereo out port. All other ports are sub-par and in fact are noisy with this motherboard implementation. Even the microphone in is noisy. And unlike my old ALC887, you cannot swap the ports around or use them for different purposes.
2. This motherboards' USB is either powered in an unstable fashion or randomly fails. Devices will randomly drop off and back on no matter what port they are plugged into. My mouse will register with the system almost instantly, but my keyboard takes a few seconds for the driver to kick in (and for the backlight to turn on). This is long enough to frustrate anyone in the middle of using the keyboard. And it happens again... and again... and again until you switch ports or restart the machine.
3. Absolute Zero customer service. Don't delude yourself into thinking they would reply to you if you asked enough. I've sent in 3 support requests over the last 3 months and I have not been replied to yet. This is my first ASRock board and it will be my last. Gigabyte was my previous boards' manufacturer and they responded to support requests within a few days. I guess I shouldn't have expected as much when trying to save a few bucks.
Long story short. If you really can't afford a better board, this one is decent enough but if you have any problems with it, you're toast. Either sacrifice some features and get a more reliable board/company or shell out a few dollars more.
Pros: This thing is great. It offers many of the best features of the X99 boards (I'm coming from socket 775 so everything is an upgrade for me), and at a MUCH better price. Here are some of the best parts
-Realtek ALC1150 is AWESOME. This is what sets it apart from ASRock's other z97 boards, who have older/less robust chips such as the 892. It really does sound much better, I'm not going to bore you with a description but it is much more capable and worth spending $10-$20 more for (but in this case, it costs less to upgrade!)
-5 fan headers. Wow, it's surprising how many low cost boards skimp on the fans. This board has 5 including the CPU fan. It has 2 at the top of the board, 2 above the top PCI express slot, and 1 at the bottom right.
-This board requires minimal driver installation to start working (on windows 8, at least). All you really need is INF, audio, and ethernet (and video if you dont have a card) and you are basically good to go.
-I like how ASRock warns you that the UEFI bios boots so fast, you may not be able to get into it. Fortunately they include a utility that lets you reboot straight to the bios, and in the bios you can also set a time delay for bootup. I have it set to 2 seconds which seems good enough, but the default is 1 second which is too short for my monitor to work with.
Cons: There were a few issues I encountered, but I have figured them all out.
1. When I first set up my system, the board refused to output any video until I removed my video card. Turns out there was a bios setting for iGPU multi-monitor setting that you HAVE to enable to use a graphics card. This was a major headache because it involved a lot of trial and error.
2. It was a bit tricky getting my Displayport monitor to fire up. For some reason, connecting it via HDMI then switching inputs to Displayport fixed it.
3. Killer E2200 is a pile of garbage. Or rather, their driver package is. Fortunately, I learned from a few forum posts by smart people that it is basically equal to a Qualcomm Atheros AR8161, and the drivers for it work well. All I had to do was manually select it from Windows 8's driver repository (Have Disk and all that), and it started working beautifully without all the nasty Killer software.
4. SATA ports right under the graphics card. I was a bit unhappy with this, I had much better luck with my old motherboard's vertically oriented ports. Wasn't a dealbreaker but it was a bit sad. I should mention that the Sata Express takes out 2 sata ports if you use it, same with the M.2 slot.
Pros: -Seems to hold network very stable
-Drivers easily accessible on company website
-Easy to install
-Appears to be of good build quality overall
Cons: -Can't seem to get above 144.4 Mbps sitting right next to a (relatively) new dual channel Linksys router, wonder why it isn't using the 2nd channel.
Other Thoughts: Overall it's been great so far.READ FULL REVIEW